Liverpool transfer
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Report: Liverpool made $38M January bid for Chukwueze

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Villarreal turned down a Liverpool bid for phenom Samuel Chukwueze during last month’s transfer window, according to a report.

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France Football says that Liverpool bid $38 million for Chukwueze in January, a figure just under half of his reported $71 million release clause.

Chukwueze, 20, features as a right wing but can play across the front three. He is a member of the Golden Boy Award short list.

The report mentions that Liverpool insured their left wing with Takumi Minamino and has center forward depth with Divock Origi, but wanted Chukwueze as insurance for Mohamed Salah.

Chukwueze has four goals and four assists in 26 matches this season, averaging 1.5 shots, 1.2 key passes, and 1.8 successful dribbles per La Liga outing.

The Nigerian international has 12 caps, his two goals coming across his last seven appearances for the Super Eagles.

Chelsea also had rumored interested in Chukwueze.

Second-tier Mirandes into Copa semis after ousting Villarreal

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MADRID — Small second-division club Mirandes pulled off another upset in the Copa del Rey on Wednesday, eliminating Villarreal 4-2 to reach the competition’s semifinals for the second time.

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The club from Miranda de Ebro, a city of about 35,000 people in northern Spain, had stunned two other first-division clubs in previous rounds – five-time champion Sevilla in the last 16 and Celta Vigo in the round of 32.

“Hi Spain, hi world,” the club posted on Twitter. “We keep making history.”

Players stayed on the field for several minutes after the match to celebrate and chant with the fans. The stadium’s announcer had asked the crowd not to invade the field after the final whistle.

Mirandes played in the Copa semifinals in 2011-12, losing to Athletic Bilbao. It made it to the competition’s quarterfinals in 2015-16.

The club has never played in Spain’s first division. It is in 11th place in the 22-team second-tier standings.

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Villarreal, seventh in the first division, was trying to reach the Copa semifinals for the first time since 2015, when it lost to eventual champion Barcelona. It hadn’t made it to the last eight since that season.

“It is my worst defeat with Villarreal,” coach Javier Calleja said. “We came into the match with a lot of confidence. We leave very upset. We have to congratulate Mirandes for what it has been able to achieve. “

Matheus Aias opened the scoring for Mirandes in the 17th minute after getting past a defender outside the area and another inside the box. The visitors equalized less than 15 minutes later with a well-struck free kick by Javier Ontiveros.

Mirandes retook the lead with Martin Merquelanz converting a penalty awarded by video review in first-half stoppage time, and Santi Cazorla evened the match with another penalty in the 56th.

The hosts went ahead again two minutes later. Odei Onaindia, whose handball prompted the penalty for Villarreal, scored with a close-range touch after the visitors failed to clear a cross by the far post.

Antonio Sanchez sealed the victory after a breakaway in stoppage time.

“We weren’t going to come here and win the match just because we are in the first division and they are in the second,” Villarreal midfielder Vicente Iborra said. “We are upset because we wasted a great opportunity to be in the semifinals.”

Mirandes was the only lower-division club still alive entering the quarterfinals of the Copa del Rey.

Villarreal signs Alcácer from Dortmund in record deal

Paco Alcacer
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VILLARREAL, Spain — Villarreal signed Spanish striker Paco Alcacer from Borussia Dortmund on Thursday in a deal reportedly worth 23 million euros ($25.5 million), making him the most expensive player ever bought by the club.

The fee would surpass the 20 million euros ($22 million) the Spanish team paid for striker Gerard Moreno in 2018.

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The 26-year-old Alcacer signed a contract until June 2025.

He is returning to the Spanish league after spending a season and a half with Dortmund, where he scored 26 goals in 47 matches.

Alcacer joined the German club on a transfer from Barcelona in the summer of 2018.

Alcacer previously played for Valencia and Getafe in the Spanish league. He has 12 goals in 19 appearances with Spain’s national team.

Villarreal earlier this month reached a deal with Lyon to send forward Karl Toko Ekambi to the French club on a loan until the end of the season.

Villarreal is eighth in the Spanish league standings.

La Liga roundup: Cazorla strikes, Villarreal hurt Real Sociedad with comeback win (video)

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Villarreal’s come-from-behind victory in San Sebastian highlights La Liga’s Sunday action.

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Real Sociedad 1-2 Villarreal

Santi Cazorla in the magician, the journeyman that keeps on giving.

The 35-year-old and longtime Villarreal midfielder Manu Trigueros both netted goals in the second half, as The Yellow Submarine pulled off a 2-1 victory over thriving Real Sociedad at Anoeta.

Sociedad, who remain fifth on the table despite the loss, edged the visitors in possession and passes completed, evident in their first goal scored by Willian Jose. The Brazilian culminated a sequence – with lots of quick passes and possession from the home side – with a simple touch inside the box.

Despite the dominance, Sociedad were unable to create abundant chances – a flaw that would, ultimately cost them the game.

Villarreal’s fortunes changed in the second half, as Cazorla and ex-Liverpool fullback Alberto Moreno took he field in the 60th minute.

The Spanish duo reinforced a side that was heavily leaning on Nigerian winger Samuel Chukwueze for answers. The 20-year-old was a standout for 82 minutes, leading the team in dribbles and most key passes completed.

Towards the latter stages of the second half, Chukwueze earned a penalty after a dangerous run inside the box, leading to Cazorla’s goal from 12 yards out in the 72nd minute.

Villarreal, who travel to Orihuela for a Copa Del Rey fixture on January 11, moved to ninth after the win with 28 points after 19 matches. Sociedad, on the other hand, look to bounce back as they take on AD Cueta in the same tournament on January 12.

Elsewhere in La Liga

Granada 1-0 RCD Mallorca

Alaves 1-1 Real Betis 

Celta Vigo 1-1 Osasuna

Man City reportedly joins Barcelona in pursuit of center back Torres

Man City target Torres of Villarreal
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Manchester City is looking to La Liga to ease its center back problems.

That’s where they found Aymeric Laporte, an unqualified but currently injured success, and where they reportedly seek Pau Torres.

And Pep Guardiola may have to tangle with his former side to earn Torres’ signature, the report says (Spanish language). Barcelona’s center back future is far from settled.

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The Villarreal defender turns 23 in January, and spent last season on loan at second tier side Malaga.

Torres leads Villarreal in passes (1065) and accurate long balls (116). Only five players in La Liga have completed more passes, and he’s 13th in the latter category.

He earned his first cap for Spain in November, scoring against Malta.

Transfermarkt lists his value at approximately $17 million, though those numbers tend to escalate when the suitor is a club like Manchester City. The comparisons to Laporte go beyond age and league, so City could have quite a deputy.